Car Shopping For A Hatchback or Small SUV

Since finding out my car was totaled, I’ve spent the last week car shopping. I have been driving a 2004 Honda Civic since 2006. It was an extremely reliable car and I loved it for 13 damn years.

When shopping for an expensive investment, I want to be IN LOVE with the car, so I either LOVE IT immediately or it’s a NO.

I’m looking to buy a car in the next week so if you have any advice for me, drop it in the comments.

Things I want in my next car:

I’m looking for a car I’m going to love for the next 13 years. I want something reliable that’s easy to repair and maintain. My needs are fairly simple:

  • A Hatchback or small SUV
  • Smooth ride
  • Heated seats
  • Moonroof (or is it sunroof? or star-roof?)
  • Apple CarPlay

Cars I’m interested in:

Honda HRV

Test-Drive After Thoughts: I test drove the HRV first and was super impressed with a few of the features I’ve never used before including Honda LaneWatch™ to assist with blind spot lane changes and Brake Hold, which lets you take your foot off the brake and keep the car stopped.

2018 Honda HRV

Honda Fit

Test-Drive After Thoughts: I didn’t like the Honda Fit.

You know how sometimes, negative things happen and then they cloud your judgement about thIngs related to that event?

When I got in the Fit, the gas light was on. The Sales gal said we’d go up the street to fill up the tank. At first, I thought, “okay, that’s a normal thing you do when you drive a car so that sounds fine,” but then I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t just go get another Honda Fit that already had gas in it?

The next thing I know, I’m sitting at a Shell station and I hear a click, then my music coming through the speakers turns off. Uh.

Battery died. 🤦🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️

Seriously? That’s fucking annoying. The test drive was over before I could even pull out.

2018 Honda Fit at Rairdon‘s Honda of Burien

Honda Civic Hatchback

Test-Drive After Thoughts: I didn’t even know this car existed before I saw it at the dealership. From the front it looks HOT. In all black (including black rims 😍), the car looks sporty and sleek now, but I feel concerned that it’ll look dated and weird in a few years. The Civic has a different user interface and dash display than the HRV and the Fit. This Honda was more fun to drive but I didn’t like the dash display and the exterior design isn’t my favorite. It’s a little too “racy” and not in the way I usually like. Next.

2018 Honda Civic Sport Hatchback at Rairdon’s Honda Burien

Mercedes GLA

Test-Drive After Thoughts: My first impression of this car is that it’s the nicest looking one of the bunch. There’s something about that Mercedes logo that’s sexy and classy at the same time. Like, can I be a hot wife in a Mercedes? Here’s something horrible and shallow: that’s what I used to dream about as a little girl… and world peace, obviously.

It was a smooth drive and felt zippy/fast. That said, I didn’t love the dash display and user interface. Why is there a 10 key pad? No Apple CarPlay. Also, super expensive to repair. We were looking at Leasing but the monthly payment would be more than buying and that seems silly. I don’t think it’s a good car for right now. I’m kinda sad because I would look super hot in a Mercedes, but I realized we can rent the same car using Car2Go. Next.

2018 Mercedes GLA

Toyota Rav-4

Test-Drive After Thoughts: This car looks alright from the outside and the leather interior looks nice. I don’t like how it drove. It felt clunky, a bit larger than I wanted, and it just wasn’t my favorite. Next.

2018 Toyota Rav-4

Mazda 3 Grand Touring

Test-Drive After Thoughts:
This is my second favorite car in terms of looks. It looks similar to the Mercedes but with some sleek Mazda touches. I love the ride on this car, it was smooth and nice to drive. I love how the interior feels. That said, I didn’t love the dash design and user interface. It had a cup holder sliding cover that I’m imagining would be covered in dog hair/crumbs. The Mazda also didn’t have AppleCarplay and that was a major strike against it because I’m a snob. I know it has “great ratings” but whatever with that.

The salesperson at Walker’s Renton Mazda was honest and not over-bearing. He sat in relative silence during our test drive except for pointing out features every now and then, and I liked that. He did kinda make fun of the first song that played when I connected my phone to test the Bluetooth (Turn The Season by Fucked Up). I found a Spotify playlist to put on after this test drive. 🤦🏻‍♀️

2018 Mazda 3 Touring in Black

Mazda CX-5

Test-Drive After Thoughts: This is the largest vehicle I’ve driven and I can feel it. It’s big. It’s beautiful. The interior is beautiful and luxurious. No Apple CarPlay. Moonroof. MPH projected onto the windshield which is kinda awesome but also kind distracting. It’s also out of my price range. 😭

2018 Mazda CX-5

Subaru Crosstrek

Test-Drive After Thoughts: In true Pacific Northwest form, I like the Subaru most. I’ve long since admired the Crosstrek—it doesn’t look like a wagon and instead looks like a cool small SUV. The drive feels sturdy and smooth because of the “symmetrical build” or some car shit I don’t understand, but overall it was comfortable and not bumpy.

The sales dude at Walker Renton Subaru was really awesome—he made an effort to make a personal connection by complimenting the Ramones song playing on my new “Classic Punk” playlist, potentially the least offensive of the music I like to drive to. I like sitting at a stop light singing

The Subaru has all the fancy robot tech that impressed me from the more premium model Honda and the Mazda CX-5: the blind spot warning, a cruise control system that lets you decide how many car lengths you want in front/behind you then slows/speeds up for you, back-up camera, moonroof, touch screen, and Apple CarPlay. I love the leather seats in the Premium version but it’s a bit more expensive than I had planned on spending.

At the end of the day, I want a reliable vehicle that we can keep for another 10+ years, and I know a Subaru can be that. My husband Gus was honestly shocked that this was my favorite, but after he drove it, he agrees.

These are everywhere in the PNW so they’ll be hard to find in the parking lot, but that’s the only downside. We looked for a newer pre-owned Subaru Crosstrek and couldn’t find a newer one, which means that people keep them and I like that.

2018 Subaru Crosstrek

Drop me your advice or vanity plate ideas the comments

Author: Becca Risa Luna

Seattle-based fashion writer and personal essayist. Likes designer handbags, glaring openness, and subtle vulgarity.

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